Chilly End For 2001 Winston Cup Season
Terrorist Attacks Force Postponements
By DAVE MOODY
Barre/Montpelier (VT) Times-Argus
Pack up your earmuffs, the 2001 NASCAR Winston Cup season will now conclude in New Hampshire. In November! Last weekend’s “New Hampshire 300” at New Hampshire International Speedway was postponed last Thursday, as a result of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
"It was NASCAR's decision, but we agreed with them 100 percent," said Bahre, adding that the race has been rescheduled for Friday, November 23, the day after Thanksgiving. NASCAR also announced the cancellation of the “New Hampshire 125” for Busch North Series cars and the “New Hampshire 100” for the Featherlite Modified Series cars.
Speedway spokesman Ron Meade said that tickets for Sunday's New Hampshire 300 will be honored for the rescheduled event on November 23. He added that tickets for Saturday's cancelled Busch North and Featherlite Modified Series races may be refunded by mail. The Speedway's mailing address for Saturday is: New Hampshire International Speedway, P.O. Box 7888, Loudon, NH, 03307.
By the way, last year’s temperature in Loudon, NH, the day after Thanksgiving was a balmy 17 degrees - yes, that’s Fahrenheit - with an average wind speed of 11 mph. Pray for better this time around.
While virtually every national sports franchise - Major League Baseball, the National Football League, PGA and LPGA Gold, and NASCAR -- elected to cancel their events scheduled for last weekend, the Automobile Racing Club of America chose to compete. An awkwardly worded press release from ARCA headquarters stated, “because the ARCA community is unwilling to give up (the) freedoms brought forth by the men and women who died protecting that very right, ARCA events…at Toledo Speedway will take place as scheduled.”
Opinion was similarly split on the local scene. Airborne Raceway in Plattsburgh postponed the ACT Dodge Tour “Dodge Dealers Foliage 200” as a result of the terrorist attacks, while Bear Ridge Speedway in Bradford and New Hampshire’s Canaan Speedway and White Mountain Motorsports Park elected to compete, as scheduled.
WMMP hosted the PASS Pro Stock Series -- with second-generation driver Ben Rowe topping 2001 Oxford Plains Speedway Pro Stock champion Jeff Taylor and ageless wonder Ralph Nason for the win - along with a regular, five-division weekly program. Bear Ridge Speedway and Canaan went with their regularly scheduled dirt track programs.
“I have no problem with any promoter that elected to race last weekend,” said ACT President Tom Curley Monday. “I think everyone had to make that decision on a personal level, depending on how they felt at the time. My own point of view - and I think my staff’s, as well - is that I would not have been able to give the event the attention and effort it deserves.”
In addition, Curley cited concerns about Canadian teams and fans being unable to cross the border last weekend in his decision to postpone the race until October 6 and 7.
Depending on your point of view, the decision to race last weekend can be viewed as coldhearted indifference to those killed and injured in the terrorist attacks, or a steadfast refusal to bend to the will of the terrorists themselves. There is likely no “right and wrong” in situations like these, only the gut feeling of a promoter who knows he’ll likely be criticized for whatever decision he makes.
Two members of Joey McCarthy’s NASCAR Busch North Series team are in New York City, aiding in the rescue and recovery effort at the World Trade Center.
Scott Warner, a part-time member of McCarthy/Pritchard Motorsports and a Fire Captain for the Dover (NJ) Fire Department, went to New York the day of the attacks, as a member of an elite task force trained for building collapse rescue. Warner has been working 12-hour shifts, searching for survivors. Team co-owner Jim Pritchard spoke to Scott's wife on Sunday, and she said he is okay. Two days after the attacks, Pritchard, a police officer for the town of Dover, N.J., went to the city himself to help with the rescue and clean-up.
"I cannot put into words what I saw. It's just devastating," Pritchard said. "The television pictures do nothing, (to tell the story). Working on the site is very dangerous, with steel beams over your head. They could collapse at anytime. I can only imagine what my friend Scott is going through inside the collapse."
Short (Track) Subjects…
…NASCAR has penalized drivers Greg Biffle and Jay Sauter for their actions during the recent “AutoLite Fram 250” at Richmond International Raceway. Biffle was fined $15,000, placed on probation for the remainder of the season, and docked 100 Busch Series driver points for throwing a punch at Sauter after a late-race crash. Sauter, was fined $10,000, placed on probation for the remainder of the season, and penalized 100 driver and owner points for rough riding. Sauter's crew chief, Gene Nead, received a $5,000 fine and probation under a NASCAR rule that requires crewchiefs to "assume responsibility for the actions of his driver, car owner and team members."
…Silly Season Update: After a rollercoaster 2001 campaign, Tim Fedewa could wind up right back where he started next season. Fedewa, who was release by Cicci-Welliver Racing in June, is negotiating with team-owner Scott Welliver and new partner Wayne Jesel about returning to the team next year. Andy Houston will also return to his roots next season, after fizzling in his rookie season on the Winston Cup Tour. Houston will return to the Herzog Motorsports team - for whom he drove a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series entry two years ago - to compete on the NASCAR Busch Series in 2002. And finally, Rich Bickle has been given an ultimatum by ST Motorsports owner Tad Geschickter's. Either turn things around dramatically before the end of the season, or start looking for a new ride. Busch North Series driver Martin Truex, Jr., will audition for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Team ASE Dodge ride in the near future. Truex is currently sixth in BNS points, and hopes to replace Scott Riggs, who is moving to the Busch Series next season.
…Quote Of The Week: "We will
smoke them out of their holes, we will get them running and we'll
bring them to justice." President George W. Bush
Tomorrow, the NASCAR Busch North Series travels to the Dover Downs International Speedway for the “MBNA E-Commerce 150,” part of a tripleheader NASCAR weekend featuring the Busch Series on Saturday and Sunday’s Winston Cup race. Canaan (NH) Speedway will be back in action tomorrow night with a special Open Competition show. The Modifieds will be out in force with wings, sail panels and unlimited motor rules on a true "Run What Ya Brung" night. The Late Models, Street Stocks and Four Cylinders will also race in Open Comp trim, with a post time of 7 p.m.
Bear Ridge Speedway in Bradford will conclude its 2001 racing season Saturday night, with all four weekly divisions in action, along with an eight-cylinder Enduro. Post time is 6:30 p.m. And finally, New Hampshire’s White Mountain Motorsports Park decides its championship battles that same night, with racing beginning at 6 p.m.